THE STARTING FIVE: Your source for the day’s most important news.

January 21, 2014

1. Students at Purdue University were asked to shelter in place amidst reports of a shooting on campus. A suspect has been taken into custody.

2. On Monday Secretary-General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon withdrew his invitation to Iran to this week’s Syria peace talks.

3. After months of protests by anti-government groups, Thailand’s government declared a 60-day state of emergency (complete with curfew enforcement, media censorship, and political arrests)

4. Three former war crimes prosecutors issued a report that the Syrian regime has tortured and executed 11,000 detainees since the uprising began. This report is released just a day before peace talks are scheduled to be in in Switzerland.

5. The White House stated today that President Obama will meet with Pope Francis on March 27, ahead of the Pope’s scheduled trip to the Middle East in May. President Obama has previously praised the Pope’s positions on income inequality and poverty.

January 13, 2014

1. People signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state marketplaces tend to be older and potentially less healthy, officials said Monday, a demographic mix that could cause premiums to rise in the future if the pattern persists.

2. This global killer is our most necessary accessory, the essential thing that gets us from here to there: the motorized vehicle.

3. Ariel Sharon, the fighter and farmer from Israel’s founding generation who became a prime minister both revered and reviled, was buried  Monday on a hill overlooking his family ranch, amid twin ceremonies in which he was eulogized as a courageous commander and pragmatic politician who relentlessly defended the land he loved.

4. What will happen to Chris Christie next?

5. National and local philanthropic foundations have committed $330 million toward a deal that would help preserve the Detroit Institute of Arts’ renowned collection by bolstering the city’s employee pension funds, federal mediators involved in the city’s bankruptcy proceedings announced Monday.

December 4, 2013

1. Increasing political unrest and violence in Ukraine spurred Secretary of State John Kerry to address the people of Ukraine while in Moldova: “You, too, deserve the opportunity to choose your own future.”

2. Aerial videos show the extent of massive Thai protests. Protestors want to oust the Shinawatras family, and are led by a former prime minister who was victim to a military coup in 2006.

3. Dennis Rodman will soon return to North Korea, potentially with other ex-NBA stars, to train the North Korean basketball team.

4. The Washington Post reported startling facts on student debts: 70% of 2012 college graduates had student loans, with an average debt of $29,000. Yowza.

5.  Vice President Biden met with China’s President Xi Jinping and other dignitaries for over five hours to discuss China’s new air defense identification zone. Mr. Biden argued that the restricted zone is illegitimate and a provocation.

December 3, 2013

1. Following up on yesterday’s news regarding Metro-North, CNN reports that the train engineer was nodding off before an accident killing four and injuring 67 more.

2. In a boon for capitalism, CNET tabulates that yesterday Americans consumers set a new record by spending their biggest amount of money online in a single day ever. Here’s to the Cyber Monday rush.

3. The L.A. Times reports that hunger strikers for immigration reform in the Capitol broke their 21-day fast…and other protesters immediately began fasting in their place.

4. Hassan Lakkis, senior Hezbollah commander, has been killed, reports BBC. Hezbollah claims he was assassinated after returning home from work around midnight.

5. USA Today reports that protesters in Kiev continue calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov after he rejected an EU trade agreement. Lucky for Azarov, he’sin China, far from the demonstrations.

December 2, 2013

1. Leading the day is a must-read story from Forbes (only half-kidding): Is Kosher The Next Big Food Trend?

2. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s political marriage is about to be put to the test. Leading Politico today is a story on the relationship between the President and his former Secretary of State, and what it means for her budding White House bid.

3. Can conservatives and environmentalists get along again? According to Politico, activists around the country are giving it a try.

4. Is Healthcare.gov finally fixed?  According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration said Sunday that it had met its goal of improving the online health-insurance marketplace so that it works well for the vast majority of users.

5. “As investigators continued to search for clues as to why a Metro-North Railroad passenger train flew off the tracks on Sunday morning,” the New York Times reports this morning, “killing four people and injuring dozens more, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday morning that it appeared that the train was traveling too fast as it hit a curve in the tracks.”

November 21, 2013

1. The Senate, bitterly divided, voted today to eliminate filibusters for most presidential nominees.

2. California voted not to allow renewal of 2014 health insurance plans cancelled because coverage doesn’t  meet federal standards under Obamacare.

3. The UN is calling on Israel to lift the Gaza blockade, saying that closures have paralyzed the construction industry.

4. Ukraine has bowed to pressure from the Kremlin and is suspending its bid to joint the EU.

5. Yale students voted to divest from fossil fuels!

November 20, 2013

1. Congressman Trey Radel (R-FL) pled guilty to one count of cocaine possession in D.C. Superior Court today.

2. CBS News was given exclusive access to the Jack Ruby files, boxes of documents and artifacts from the Dallas County district attorney’s prosecution of Ruby, the man who gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald.

3. Senior officials from six world powers are meeting with Iran in Geneva, Switzerland today.  The new round of negotiations is expected to run until Friday.

4. U.S.-Israel tensions are high amid the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

5. Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China, announced that he will step down from his post early next year.

November 19, 2013

1. Senate Republicans on Monday denied President Obama his third nominee – Robert L. Wilkins – in recent weeks to the nation’s most powerful and prestigious appeals court and insisted they would not back down.

2. As the Philippines begins to clean up after Typhoon Haiyan, it must figure out how to feed and house millions of uprooted people.

3. Iran’s national gas company said it is facing collapse, the latest sign of deepening economic distress from international sanctions as Tehran seeks urgent relief in talks with world powers.

4. J.P. Morgan and the Justice Department Monday agreed to a landmark $13 billion settlement that resolves a number of legal headaches for the largest U.S. bank, clearing the way for a public announcement as soon as Tuesday.

5. The head of Russia’s state industrial holding company said on Monday that Moscow was on the verge of reaching a landmark agreement to deliver air defense systems to Egypt’s army.

November 18, 2013

1. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned attacks perpetrated by Libyan militias, who killed 31 protestors and wounded 200 others in Tripoli. The protestors were marching to end such armed groups.

2. After spending almost all of his career in public service positions, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has announced that he will be taking a finance job as president of the firm Warburg Pincus.

3. Yeb Sano, lead negotiator for the Philippines at the UN climate change summit, entered the sixth day of his hunger strike to express solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and to push more developed countries to implement stronger measures against climate change, which he sees as being a major cause of the typhoon.

4. In response to calls from UK Prime Minister David Cameron for Sri Lanka to investigate human rights abuses against Tamils, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa defiantly accused the UK of hypocrisy and stated, “We will take our time and we will investigate into 30 years of war.”

5. In Kabul, at the location where Afghan elders were supposed to vote on a long-term security agreement with the U.S., a car bomb killed at least ten people. This has been interpreted as the insurgency stating their desire to prevent the U.S.’s presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

November 14, 2013

1. Janet Yellen, whom President Obama has chosen to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, faces a Senate confirmation hearing today. If she is confirmed, as is expected, she will become the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.  Here are five things to watch for at her hearing.

2. Facing mounting pressure from Congressional Democrats, President Obama is expected to announce a proposal today that will allow Americans who are losing their health insurance coverage due to the Affordable Care Act to retain it. The administrative fix comes in the midst of growing criticism of the health care law rollout.

3. A U.S. aircraft carrier began delivering food and water to communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan today. As relief trickles in, local authorities are stepping up burial efforts, as many dead bodies remain strewn on the streets.

4. Top Russian and Egyptian ministers are holding talks in Cairo that could potentially include arms deals worth as much as $2 billion. It is the highest-profile visit to Egypt by a Russian delegation in years and comes shortly after President Obama decided to cut military aid to Egypt in response to Morsi’s overthrow and the ensuing crackdown on his supporters.

5. Around 23,000 Ethiopians have surrendered to the Saudi government since its crackdown on illegal migrant workers began a week ago. The crackdown has resulted in violent clashes in the capital, Riyadh. Saudi authorities are trying to reduce the 12% unemployment rate among Saudi citizens; nine million migrants are estimated to be working in Saudi Arabia, comprising over half of the country’s workforce.

November 13, 2013

1. Typhoon relief gridlock threatened to paralyze rescue operations in the most devastated part of the Philippines on Wednesday, with aid piling up but few ways to distribute it, plentiful gasoline but no merchants willing to sell it, and an influx of emergency volunteers but no place to house them.

2. Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah, one of the highest-value detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was building a network to wage a war that would “bring America to its knees” before he was captured in 2002, his personal diaries show. In the document, Abu Zubaydah recounts the chaotic aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the toppling of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, which provided shelter for men like him and Osama bin Laden.

3. Israel’s prime minister called for a halt to fresh plans for the construction of thousands of new homes in West Bank settlements, saying it had created an “unnecessary confrontation” with the international community that threatened to weaken his campaign against Iran’s suspect nuclear program.

4. Under intense bipartisan pressure to answer mounting consumer complaints about the botched health care rollout, White House officials are struggling to make good on President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their insurance coverage without undermining the new health law or adding unaffordable costs.

5. All eyes are on John Kerry and his attempt to persuade a markedly skeptical Congress to forestall a new wave of sanctions on Iran, as the international community hopes to close out a nuclear deal in eight days’ time.

November 12, 2013

1. Desperate times, desperate measures. Two days after the Central Bank of Venezuela reports that prices rose by 5% in the month of October, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announces measures to prohibit storekeepers and businesses from further increasing prices. The move is reminiscent of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 2007 efforts to famously “prohibit” inflation.

2. Breaking the tradition. As recent polls peg his popularity at all-time lows, French President François Hollande is booed at the annual Armistice Day ceremony. It is the first time that a French head of state is openly jeered during the November 11 proceedings, which seek to commemorate the signing of the 1918 armistice officially ending World War I.

3. And so the phalanx breaks. As Democrats’ united front on healthcare continues to crack, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan has begun to circulate a letter asking for a full investigation into the troubled launch of healthcare.gov. Senior administration officials are wary of reopening old wounds through further debate, but they have had difficulty keeping red-state Democrats like Hagan in line.

4. Unforeseen Devastation. Weather forecasters had expected that Typhoon Haiyan would be serious, but not until after landfall did they realize the full extent of the damage. International efforts to assist the hurt and homeless are currently underway, although certain parts of the Philippines remain virtually inaccessible.

5. Google goes to Washington. Although Twitter and Facebook have become common staples throughout Capitol Hill, there has been less enthusiasm for Google Plus and Google Hangouts. Staff at Google are seeking to change this discrepancy, increasingly counseling members of Congress on each platforms’ setup and potential benefits.

November 11, 2013

1. On this Veteran’s Day, The Fiscal Times calls us to reflect on the effects of the recent sequestration on our soldiers, as our deepest thanks go out to those who have worn the nation’s uniform and made countless sacrifices. Greater attention was called to the issue with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s speech just last week on the Defense Department’s plans to reduce spending.

2. As our hearts go out to those affected by the Super Typhoon Haiyan, International Business Times reminds us, with its compilation of sources of relief aid pledged thus far, that humanitarian assistance and disaster support carry with them important political considerations.

3. Reaffirming a 1962 decision on the legitimacy of the Preah Vihear Temple, which rests on land long disputed by Cambodia and Thailand, the International Court of Justice ruled on Monday that the immediate area around the temple is within Cambodia’s sovereignty. The decision comes at a critical time of unrest for both countries (see number 3).

4.  The government proposal of an amnesty bill for Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup, has thrown Thai politics into a once-more volatile state. Thousands of protestors filled the streets Monday, as multiple demonstrations occurred simultaneously across the country, closing schools.

5.  As a quick recap of one of the weekend’s significant political events, talks with Iran over its nuclear program ended on Sunday with no concrete agreements. Both parties remain hopeful as Al Jazeera examines why France took an unexpectedly hardline stance in recent discussions.

November 7, 2013

1. What is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg planning next?  Although his future plans are far from clear, Capital New York‘s Joe Pompeo asserts that hizzoner “is planning to return to … Bloomberg L.P. in a role that will see him primarily involved in its online opinion offering, Bloomberg View … Bloomberg … will both write for Bloomberg View and wrangle bold-faced guest contributors.”

2. After publishing a column advocating gun control, and enraging his readers, the editor of Guns & Ammo magazine apologized to readers and resigned immediately.  The editor says he was trying to promote “a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights,” but many readers say the column only helps the ‘anti-Second Amendment crowd.’

3. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jimmy Carter’s grandson, state senator Jason Carter will run as a Democrat for Governor of Georgia.  Incumbent Governor Nathan Deal is currently saddled with less-than-optimal approval ratings, but it Carter still faces an uphill climb in this reddish state.

4. “The California Supreme Court appeared unwilling Wednesday to grant a law license to a former journalist who fabricated stories for national magazines but now says he is steadfastly honest,” writes Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times. “During a hearing in Sacramento,  several justices of the state high court indicated they were not convinced that Stephen Glass,  41, who concocted articles for the New Republic and other magazines in the mid-1990s, had shown enough evidence of rehabilitation to be permitted to practice law.”

5. In a lengthy interview with the Daily Beast, America’s most cited legal scholar, Judge Richard Posner, talks about his compulsive writing, what’s guaranteed to make him laugh, and his passion for cats.  Check out the full conversatoon here.

November 6, 2013

1. Yesterday was Election Day in New Haven, and Democrats won offices across the city.  From Mayor to city clerk to the Board of Alders, a little “D” next to the name proved valuable for local candidates.

2. In other important races: Republican Chris Christie was reelected Governor of New Jersey; Democrat Terry McAuliffe prevailed Virginia gubernatorial contest; Democrat Bill de Blasio won the New York City mayor’s office; and Democrat Marty Walsh declared victory in a tight mayoral election in Boston.

3. Meanwhile, in our chilly neighbor to the north, Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine.  Don’t worry, though: “it probably occurred “in one of my drunken stupors,” Ford assured reporters.

4. The Affordable Care Act is just as contentious as ever.  “President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials met privately Wednesday with frustrated Senate Democrats facing reelection in 2014 to discuss the botched Obamacare rollout,” wrote Politico.

5. “Evangelical historian David Barton will not challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican primary, he announced on Glenn Beck’s radio show on Wednesday,” Tal Kopan wrote this morning. “The time is just not right for me,” Barton said on TheBlaze, disappointing Beck, who along with other tea party activists had hoped Barton could unseat the senator.

November 5, 2013

1. Happy Election Day! Today’s Starting Five is dedicated to the five most interesting races from across the country.  Right here in New Haven, a mayoral race, and several tight aldermanic elections, are dominating local coverage.

2. In Virginia, the Governor’s mansion, as well as the Lt. Governor’s and Attorney General’s seats are up for grabs.  Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat, is favored in the gubernatorial contest; but watch for turnout in Northern Virginia, where the race will undoubtedly be decided.

3. In New Jersey, incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie is poised to claim a resounding victory — the only real question is the margin: will Christie break 60%, or will New Jersey’s heavily Democratic lean push his polling numbers back down to Earth?

4. The race for mayor of Minneapolis features, according to the University of Minnesota’s SmartPolitics blog: “35 candidates. Two Bobs, two Marks, two Christophers, two Johns, two Jameses. Captain Jack Sparrow and The Rock. Ranked choice voting. Welcome to elections in the City of Lakes.”

5. Some of the most interesting races (and ballot initiatives) in the country will be decided today in Colorado.  From marijuana taxation, to contentious – and nationally relevant – school board races, to restrictions on fracking, make sure to pay attention to the Colorado returns tonight.

November 4, 2013

1. CNN reports that Edward Snowden has released “A Manifesto for Truth.” It criticizes the U.S. and U.K. as the worst offenders of spying on individuals without oversight from other parties.

2. Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s deposed president, is standing trial today. The New York Times says this is a “ritual” trial signifying “there will be no turning back.” BBC reports that Morsi has asserted, “I am President.”

3. Flights at LAX have resumed their regular schedule after a shooting on Friday, reports the L.A. Times. How this act will influence national discussions on gun violence and lone wolf terrorism remains to be seen.

4. Violence has interrupted elections in Kosovo, reports BBC. In a show of racism, men in masks stormed into a polling center, set off tear gas, and smashed ballot boxes in an ethnically-mixed town. So much for democracy.

5. According to NPR, Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto refuses to resign in spite of a video in police’s hands allegedly showing him smoking crack cocaine. Anyone who thinks his reputation can remain intact is surely smoking something.

November 1, 2013

1. A U.S. drone strike this morning killed the Chief of the Pakistani Taliban this morning in North Waziristan, the Taliban’s stronghold on the border with Afghanistan. The kill has been confirmed by Taliban leadership. Hakimullah Mehsud had previously had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

2. The German government signaled its willingness through the media this morning to meet with Edward Snowden and its intention to ask him for information regarding purported U.S. espionage on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

3. An Obama administration official told CNN today that Israel destroyed missiles in Syria that it felt could be transferred to Hezbollah.

4. This last Monday an SUV ploughed through civilians in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, injuring dozens. Chinese authorities have now arrested five accomplicies who they claim are Islamist Militants intent on waging a holy war. U.S. authorities are skeptical: “It is almost impossible for Uighurs to organize because of China’s stringent controls and attacks.”

5. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted today that U.S. intelligence gathering has gone too far. “And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.”

October 31, 2013

1. Happy Halloween!!  Still don’t have a costume yet?  Don’t worry: Buzzfeed has a list of this year’s hottest political costumes!

2. According to the organization in charge of overseeing Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament, the nation has rendered its declared chemical weapons production facilities inoperable.  Whether this disarmament proves to be sustainable — or even real — remains to be seen.

3. “Terry McAuliffe has had Hillary and Bill Clinton hit the trail for him, and  President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are on their way,” Politico’s James Hohmann writes.  But Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, is struggling to find a high-wattage GOP surrogate to draw him huge crowds.

4. The Obama administration, it seems, was offering a split-screen perspective on healthcare reform yesterday. “While Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, apologized profusely during a politically charged hearing on Capitol Hill, President Obama traveled to Massachusetts to argue forcefully that the Affordable Care Act will eventually be just as successful as the similar plan pioneered by Mitt Romney, his onetime rival and a former governor of the state,” the New York Times reports.

5. Bloomberg‘s Henry Goldman writes this morning that Wall Street is finally adjusting to the almost inevitable election of Bill de Blasio.  De Blasio, indeed, held three meetings with business leaders in the first week of October, although he certainly won’t be as friendly to the industry as his predecessor.

October 30, 2013

1. According to many members of Congress, sorry might not cut it. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offers an apology for the healthcare website’s glitches, but members of Congress and the media are still skeptical.

2. Check out perhaps the best resource for daily breaking news on Syria – Syria Comment offers insight on the nation’s top five insurgent leaders.

3. NPR goes in-depth with a firsthand perspective on the infamous Westboro Baptist Church from Pastor Fred Phelps’ granddaughter.

4. Show me the money! Perhaps U.S. foreign aid be returning to Egypt in the near future? Read more about this hot-button issue here.

5. Terror in Tiananmen Square? According to the BBC, arrests are made in what is being labeled as a “violent terror act” in the nation’s capital.

October 29, 2013

1. CNN reports that it’s still unclear exactly what Obama knew about the NSA’s spying on Chancellor Merkel and other heads of U.S. allies… but it’s time for him to take a stance.

2. Iran is seeking a “new approach” to talks about nuclear development in Tehran.

3. Ten cases of polio have been reported by the WHO in Syria. The WHO warns that it could spread throughout the region.

4. Abortion clinics in west Texas will remain open, for now.

5. Deutsche Bank and USB have admitted to manipulating the foreign-exchange market, and have promised to take action against staff members involved.

October 28, 2013

1. The Economic Times reports that President Obama knew about the NSA’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

2. How does Obama know when he’s in trouble? When John Stewart dedicates the first 10 minutes of his show to criticizing Obama’s response to the Obamacare technology failures.

3. A security officer who witnessed the attack on Benghazi told 60 Minutes that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic missions was planned and sophisticated.

4. American rock musician and songwriter Lou Reed passed away on Sunday at the age of 71.

5. Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, a.k.a. Shaq, released a video endorsing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for reelection.

October 22, 2013

1. Getting ready to watch some movies this break? Netflix just announced that they now have 40 million subscribers.

2. Governor Chris Christie ended his court appeal, meaning the doors are open for same sex couples to marry in the Garden State.

3. As though tensions weren’t high enough already, Iran gave Russia a copy of a US ScanEagle drone as proof of mass production of drones in the U.S. military.

4. The French government castigated U.S. after finding out on Monday about the NSA’s surveillance in France.

5. Oregon is launching a new program to tax drivers per mile as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume.

October 21, 2013

1. Ohio became the 26th state (and fourth controlled by a Republican governor) to sign onto Obamacare, accepting $2.5 billion in federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage to around 300,000 Ohioans.

2. A study that demonstrates the huge disparities in language exposure between upper and lower class toddlers is fueling the campaign for pre-kindergarten education.

3. Shannon Davis, a lawyer and activist from San Antonio, provided unexpected assistance in the chase for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

4. Speculation as to why Saudi Arabia renounced its seat on the UN Security Council.

5. Billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller discusses the economic burden younger Americans carry in order to fund entitlements for older Americans.

October 18, 2013

1. Tom Foley, who served as the congressional representative for Washington state for 30 years and was Speaker of the House from 1989 to 1995, passed away in his home.

2. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went on Univision to accuse Senator Ted Cruz of using the government shutdown to bolster his expected 2016 presidential campaign, ultimately harming the American people.

3. Lebanese officials report that the nine Lebanese hostages who were detained in Syria in 2012 while returning from a tour of holy sites in Iran have been set free.

4. A UN investigation of U.S. drone strikes has found 33 incidents with civilian casualties that may have violated international humanitarian laws. 

5. Saudi Arabia made a principled gesture by refusing to occupy a position on the UN security council. The nation attacked the world body on issues such as nuclear weapons, Syria, and double standards.

October 17, 2013

1. President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan measure early this morning to end the sixteen-day-long shutdown of the U.S. government, after Congress agreed to finance the government until Jan. 15 and raise the nation’s debt limit through the middle of February. Standard & Poor’s estimated the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion.

2. A Syrian government official indicated today that long-postponed peace talks under international auspices, also known as Geneva II, could be held in late November. It remains to be seen who will attend the peace talks, and who will represent the Syrian opposition, which is seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

3. Rebel snipers killed a high-ranking general in Syrian military intelligence today in the city of Deir al-Zor, which is largely controlled by opposition forces. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, General Jama’a was a close to Assad and one of Syria’s most  prominent military officials.

4. Newark Mayor and rising Democratic star Cory Booker won a special election to represent New Jersey in the US Senate, defeating Republican Steve Lonegan. Booker will serve the remaining 15 months of the late Fred Lautenberg’s term and will have to run for re-election in November 2014. His election increases the Democratic control of the Senate to 55-45.

5. A court ruled that prominent Russian opposition ruler Alexei Navalny would not be going to prison. His five-year theft conviction was suspended, but it will  prevent him from running for office until mid-2018, which is a presidential election year. Navalny, who believes the conviction was politically motivated, plans to appeal the decision.

 

October 16, 2013:

1. Senator Harry Reid and  Senator Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that Democratic and Republican Senate leaders had reached final agreement on a deal to reopen the government and extend its borrowing authority into February. Votes in the House and the Senate could begin in the afternoon, according to aides familiar with the negotiation.

2. Iran and six world powers have concluded a second day of negotiations Wednesday aimed at ending a decade-old standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities. Reflecting signs of progress in ongoing talks, diplomats expressed “cautious optimism” about the prospects for eventually resolving issues around Iran’s contested nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions.

3. A senior Dutch diplomat was attacked by unknown assailants in Moscow late Tuesday night, Russian news agencies have reported, a week after President Vladimir Putin demanded an apology for a Russian diplomat’s alleged beating in the Netherlands.

4. The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a major case challenging Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants.

5. New Jersey’s candidates for governor, the nationally known incumbent, Republican Chris Christie, and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, traded personal and political barbs in a heated exchange in their final face-to-face meeting three weeks before election day.

October 15, 2013:

1. Ater another day of no solutions  to the U.S. debt crisis, markets begin to reflect investors’ growing uncertainty about the security of U.S. bonds.

2. In the garden state, Cory Booker’s campaign for Senate has hit more turbulence than expected as his once robust lead in polling keeps chipping away.

3.  Despite opposition by human rights activists and several legal groups, France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport has gone ahead with its opening of a controversial immigration court.

4. As uncertainty grows about Egypt’s political and economic future, commodity prices in the Gaza Strip reach unprecedented levels.

5. Wary of a partial agreement that would stop short of dismantling Iran’s entire nuclear capabilities, Israel continues to urge the implantation of full and complete sanctions.

October 14, 2013:

1. Russian authorities seeks to address tensions over migrant workers, raiding Moscow after the city’s worst riot in three years.

2. “Tremendous Progress” — This loud, emboldened headline topping Huffington Post’s page today, referencing the Senate’s desperate attempts to reach a resolution with yet another ominous deadline hanging overhead.

3.  Businessweek breaks down the achievements of the three American economists announced today as the winners of the Nobel Prize for economics.  One of the three is Yale’s very own Robert Shiller!

4. Once again calling attention to the conflict between the state and religion is the Malaysian court’s ruling stipulating that the use of the word “Allah” is reserved for Muslims.

5. In anticipation of tomorrow’s P5+1 talks, Washington indicates its willingness to extend relief to Iran economic sanctions, conditional on the country’s expedience in assuaging international concerns over its nuclear program.

October 11, 2013: 

1. The Fiscal Crisis may be reaching the end of the road – or at least the can may be kicked a few more months down the road – as Republican Senators have left a meeting with the White House “expressing confidence” that a deal can be forged.

2. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons may have a bland name but the international chemical weapons-watchdog has been announced the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The agency has captured headlines as it seeks to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons with the endorsement and support of America and Russia.

3. Everyone knows the Republicans have seen a decline in popularity with the ongoing government shutdown. Ezra Klein breaks down how bad it really is for the GOP in one of his normally great posts.

4. We talk about an American pivot to Asia, but we keep fixating our efforts, resources, and attention on the Middle East. The Economist notes two major regional events in Asia where President Obama’s absence was conspicuous.

5. Akash Kapur, a brilliant Indian author and journalist, has written a tremendous book about the problems that plague modern-day India and those who have been left behind as the country’s economy booms. If you don’t have time to read India Becoming (and you really really should), then read this article of his in the New Yorker. It’s just a sample of the problems and injustices that lie simmering beneath the glossy veneer of the Indian ‘success’ story.

October 10, 2013:

1. A debt ceiling showdown averted? Perhaps that’s a little too optimistic. However, there seems to be a way out. Boehner  proposed a six-week extension to the US debt limit this morning.

2. Jack Lew talks on the possibility of a debt ceiling showdown and how markets will react.

3. The Libyan prime minister has been released after being kidnapped, likely due to American capture of Al Qaeda leader.

4. The Senate Chaplain has emerged as an icon of rationality in this entire government shutdown debacle. He speaks to the Washington Post here.

5. In city news, the ex-detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison for a multitude of federal violations.

October 9, 2013:

1. This morning, Paul Ryan pens an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal imploring President Obama and congressional Democrats to negotiate on the shutdown.  “[R]ight now, we need to find common ground,” Ryan writes.  “All it takes is leadership-and for the president to come to the table.”

2. Will negotiations on a budget deal finally begin in earnest?  “People may be talking about no negotiation. You’ve got to negotiate. That’s what we’re here to do,” quipped West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

3. “Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, a reliable friend of business on Capitol Hill and no one’s idea of a bomb thrower, isn’t buying the apocalyptic warnings that a default on United States government debt would lead to a global economic cataclysm.”  According to the New York Times, in fact, many congressional Republicans believe that a default would not be the catastrophe nearly all economists have claimed it would be.

4. Meanwhile, Manu Raju and Burgess Everett of Politico write that Senate Democrats are increasingly embracing the so-called nuclear option to get around the ever-present GOP filibuster — in order to resolve the shutdown, the impending default and a host of other legislative issues.

5.  Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, warned Congress in the pages of USA Today that not raising the debt limit could have dire consequences for the global economy and the world’s poorest people.  “The notion that getting close to the 17th and then in the final minute doing something heroically that will have an impact,” Kim said.  “Please consider politics beyond the Beltway, politics beyond your own districts.”

October 8, 2013: 

1. Chris Krueger, a connected D.C. analyst for Guggenheim Partners, writes in his private guidance this morning for the Wall Street Journal, that any effort to pay bond interest before other obligations could pose a serious risk to the markets.  This is a must-read for anyone looking to stay up-to-date on the shutdown.

2. Speaking of the shutdown, Politico‘s Jonathan Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown assert that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been adamant that Vice President Joe Biden not participate in any negotiations with Republicans.

3. “Breaking the fever is code for ending the cycle of recurring, last-minute crises over spending bills and increases in the nation’s borrowing limit [...] The White House believes these crises give outsize power to a minority of conservative House Republicans who don’t have the strength to push their agenda into law but can, in a crisis, stop the action.” Gerald F. Seib has more in today’s Wall Street Journal.

4. After playing a will-she-won’t-she game with the YDN and other local press, Yale student Ella Wood finally announced that she will bow out of Ward 7′s aldermanic race.  (Wood lost the Democratic primary, but had been toying with an Independent campaign.)

5. Starting to look for a summer internship.  Maybe this one will be up your alley!

October 7, 2013: 

1. For almost a week, federal government workers have been on what one would call “vacation” and best and “purgatory” at worst. The L.A. Times predicts the shutdown will drag on a Congress members debate the country’s borrowing limit.

2. The War on Terror continues: The U.S. conducted raids in Libya and Tripoli over the weekend and captured a suspected Al Qaeda operative, wanted for involvement in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa.

3. 53 people were killed in clashes between Egyptian civilians and security authorities on Sunday. The violence occurred as protestors marked the 40th anniversary of an Egyptian military campaign against Israelis in the Sinai Peninsula.

4. The one time when sledghammers and explosives are a force for good, destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles has begun. The U.S. and Russia agreed to stop short of U.S. military intervention if Syria would identify, and agree to destroy, all of its chemical weapons.

5. So long, folks? The United Kingdom’s Adam Afriyie plans to try to force an early referendum on whether America’s neighbor across the pond should leave the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron has already pledged to renegotiate UK-EU relations before 2017.

October 4, 2013:

1. The House will vote this weekend on funding for popular programs without ending the shutdown. Looking forward, House Speaker John Boehner reportedly will not block raising the debt ceiling even if House Republicans oppose the measure.

2. Texas State Senator Wendy Davis has announced her candidacy for the November 2014 gubernatorial election. Attacking Republican leadership in the Lone Star State, Davis quipped, “Texas has waited too long for a governor who knows that quid pro quo shouldn’t be the status quo.”

3. Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf, a conservative Islamic scholar infamous for helping Osama Bin Laden return to Afghanistan in 1996 and for mentoring Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (the “operational mastermind” behind 9/11), is running in Aghanistan’s 2014 presidential election 

4. China’s President Xi Jinping took his first trip to Southeast Asia since taking office, becoming the first foreign head of state to adress Indonesia’s Parliament. Despite territorial disputes between China and Indonesia, the largest ASEAN country, Xi focused on investment initiatives and called for the construction of a “community of common destiny.”

5. North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led forces against the U.S. in Vietnam, died today at the age of 102. In recent decades he has been considered an elder statesman of Vietnam and has advocated for economic reform, closer ties with the U.S., and caution regarding Chinese influence.

October 3, 2013:

1. Is a  grand bargain the only way to resolve the budget shutdown?  Politico‘s Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown seem to think so.  In a groundbreaking new article, they write that many House Republicans “think their best chance to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and extract any concession from President Obama is to strike a big budget deal [that wraps in spending levels, tax reform, entitlements]. Yes, the grand bargain is back.”

2. Many political prognosticators have written off the Democrats’ chances of holding a Senate seat in Montana being vacated by Sen. Max Baucus.  But this morning, Democrats caught a major break – recruiting Lt. Gov. John Walsh, a 52-year-old former Montana National Guard commander and potentially fierce competitor.  Retaining the seat may still be a longshot, but the Democrats finally have a fighting chance.

3. Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?  There may be no definitive answer, but Yale graduate Eileen Pollack, a professor of creative writing at the University of Michigan and author of “Breaking and Entering” and “In the Mouth,” takes a stab at the question in a lengthy New York Times weekend piece.

4. Discord in the Republican cloakroom?  Politico‘s Manu Raju writes: “Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it. At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse.”

5. Despite the October 1 opening of Obamacare’s healthcare exchanges, millions of poor people and minorities still will not have access to care, according to the New York Times.  “The 26 states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion are home to about half of the country’s population, but about 68 percent of poor, uninsured blacks and single mothers. About 60 percent of the country’s uninsured working poor are in those states.”

October 2, 2013:

1. Treasury takes its last stand.  The Treasury Department has begun using the last set of accounting maneuvers available to it in order to keep paying the government’s bills.  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned congressional leaders that the government will be unable to meet its financial commitments if the debt ceiling is not raised by October 17th.

2. Author Tom Clancy, famous for the Jack Ryan series, has died at the age of 66.

3. NBC News has five scenarios under which the government shutdown could end.  Check them out here.

4. A “staunch group or republicans outflanks House leaders” in the budget negotiations, according to the New York Times

5. While the government shutdown is serious business, Colbert, Stewart, Leno, and Fallon will lighten the mood.

October 1, 2013:

1. As of this past midnight, the government is officially shut down.  For the first time since 1996, Congress has failed to pass a continuing budget resolution and non-essential federal programs have grinded to a halt.  Check out Politico for all of the latest updates and political implications.

2. Connecticut’s very own Representative John Larson is quite clearly not happy with the shutdown!

3. Despite the punditry and pontificating about who will end up taking the blame for the shutdown, Gallup asserts that the stakes for the impasse may not actually be that high.  As the polling firm details, the showdown 17 years ago didn’t really impact either party’s long-term approval ratings.

4. Despite the House GOP’s fondest wishes, the Obamacare exchanges are officially open as of this morning.  “Applications and enrollment in the state-based and federally-facilitated marketplaces have been completed,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said, “and on this historic day, enrollment for 2014 has begun.”  By mid-afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that 2.8 million unique visitors had been to the website.

5. In non-shutdown-related news, super lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies — who this summer prevailed in the high-profile Proposition 8 case — are now targeting Virginia to launch another challenge aimed at convincing the Supreme Court that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.  The Washington Post has the details.

September 30, 2013:

1. Unless there is a last-minute deal, the U.S. government will shut down Monday at midnight.  This is perhaps the “biggest crisis” of John Boehner’s speakership, Politico claims.

2. Days after U.S. and Iranian leaders spoke for the first time in 34 years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned against Hassan Rouhani’s smile campaign, believing it to be a ploy to buy more time for Iran’s nuclear program.

3. Syria agreed to relinquish its chemical weapons, and inspectors outlined their plan.

4. The White House is preparing a major fall push for immigration reform.

5. Joe Biden will campaign for Cory Booker next month.  Someone’s ramping up his political activity…

September 27, 2013:

1. The Senate Intelligence Committee appears to be moving toward swift passage of a bill that would “change but preserve” the once-secret National Security Agency program that is keeping logs of every American’s phone calls, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the panel, said Thursday.

2. The five permanent members of the deeply divided U.N. Security Council reached agreement Thursday on a resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, a major step in taking the most controversial weapon off the battlefield of the world’s deadliest current conflict.

3. Congress’s rocky path to avoiding a government shutdown became even rougher Thursday, as Speaker John Boehner said the House wouldn’t accept the spending plan likely to emerge from the Senate.

4. Deadly protests have rocked several Sudanese cities since Sunday, when the government lifted subsidies on gasoline, nearly doubling the price in an increase that is bound to create a domino effect on other goods.

5. Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator whose filibuster in June against an abortion bill backed by the state’s powerful Republicans catapulted her to national political prominence, has told supporters and potential donors that she plans to announce next week that she will run for governor, according to Democrats in Texas and Washington.

September 26, 2013:

1. After his marathon speech, Republican Senator Ted Cruz is leading an effort to tie the approval of funding for the government to the denial of Obamacare. The plan seeks to leave Democrats with two choices: vote for the bill and take away health care funding, or vote against the bill and force a government shutdown.

2. The College Board, the group that administers the SAT, is sending informational packets about the nation’s top colleges to students who scored in the top 15% on the Preliminary SAT and whose families are in the lower quartile of income distribution. In the program’s experimental phase, 54 percent of lower income students who received a packet were admitted to one of the nation’s top 238 colleges, as opposed to 30 percent of those who didn’t receive a packet.

3. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the “eraser law” on Monday, allowing minors to delete content they post online, as part of broader legislation regarding advertising to minors. The author of the bill, California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, gives an interview.

4. A Harvard economist and Princeton psychologist propose an explanation for why the poor are, generally speaking, less future-oriented than their wealthier counterparts: worrying about money reduces cognitive capacity for problem-solving and planning.

5. Jeff Sachs discusses the successes and failures of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, set to conclude in 2015, and the drafting of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years. In defining our goals for poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability, Sachs says we are taking a vital first step.

September 25, 2013:

1. During government shutdown talks, Senator Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor for a marathon speech that lasted over 21 hours in order to advocate for the defunding of Obamacare.

2. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya issued a televised address claiming that Kenya’s security forces have defeated the Islamist gunmen who besieged the Westgate mall in Nairobi for four days.

3. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech at the United Nations, in which he stated his willingness to enter negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program and urged the U.S. not to get militarily involved in Syria.

4. The Chinese government has decided to establish a 17-square-mile Free Trade Zone in Shanghai in which people will be able to access previously blocked websites, such as the New York Times site, Facebook, and Twitter.

5. At least 250 people died in Balochistan, Pakistan due to a 7.7-magnitude earthquake. Pakistan’s military has been leading a rescue operation, though the landscape is impeding their efforts.

September 24, 2013:

1. In his speech at the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York, President Barack Obama affirmed that the United States would pursue detente efforts with Iran. More broadly speaking, he stressed that the United States would do everything in its power to secure its interests in the Middle East.

2. China banned the export to North Korea of several weapons-related technologies that could be used to build weapons of mass destruction. The restrictions could help implement UN resolutions on North Korea.

3. The deadly stand-off between Kenyan forces and Islamist militants at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi continues. Although Kenyan officials claimed that they had the situation under control, there are still reports of sporadic gunfire, and the militants tweeted that they were still holding hostages.

4. Russian authorities detained 30 Greenpeace activists and plan to prosecute them on piracy charges for trying to board an Arctic oil platform. The activists were protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic.

5. A U.S. citizen in Bahrain was sentenced to 10 years in jail on attempted murder charges related to a disturbance that demanded greater rights for Shi’ite Muslims. The prisoner claims that he made a false confession after being tortured by Bahraini authorities.

September 23, 2013:

1. A former F.B.I. agent, Donald Sachtleben, has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year. The leaks involved an intelligence operation related to a disrupted al-Qaeda suicide bomb plot targeting a plane bound for the U.S.

2. Kenya’s foreign minister says two or three Americans were among the Islamic extremists who attacked an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi where at least 62 people died in a three-day siege of terror.

3. The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to sue JPMorgan Chase & Co over mortgage bonds it sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, a sign the bank’s legal troubles are not yet over. A lawsuit, first reported by Reuters, could come as early as Tuesday, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

4. The military on Monday effectively pronounced the end of a mass hunger strike among detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — a six-month protest that at one point swept through a majority of the inmate population, refocused global attention on the prison, and pushed the Obama administration to revive the effort to shutter it.

5.  Plans were set  Monday for the highest-level engagement between the U.S. and Iran in more than 30 years, fueling cautious optimism about the prospect for progress in curtailing Iran’s nuclear work after a decade of threats and stalled diplomacy. The meeting on Thursday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York will bring Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif together with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from the five other major powers who are negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program.

September 20, 2013:

1. French President Francois Hollande has reached out a hand to Hassan Rouhani in hopes of finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. Hollande has been one of the fiercest critics of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and hopes to unfreeze stalled peace talks throughout the region by meeting with Rouhani at the UN General Assembly.

2. Six-term Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) has announced that he will seek a 7th term in the 2016 elections. One of the most senior members of the Senate, Grassley is widely seen as the heavy favorite to win reelection in battleground Iowa, which voted Democrat in the last 2 presidential elections.

3. In a sit-down interview, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rips into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, accusing the increasingly conservative caucus of forgoing proper governance in favor of trying to hurt President Barack Obama politically.

4. The administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of denying Maduro access to American airspace, a claim that U.S. authorities vehemently deny and one that has led to increased tensions between the United states and Venezuela ahead of the General Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

5. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on track to become the longest-serving European female political leader since Margaret Thatcher. Ahead of this weekend’s elections, polls consistently show Merkel as Germany’s most popular political figure, the result of her minting a strong governing coalition throughout her last term as well as what is widely perceived as steady leadership during the European economic crisis.

September 19, 2013:

1.  By a narrow margin, the House just approved a Republican plan to cut $39 billion from food stamps, using methods including the tightening of eligibility requirements.  A brief account of the grounds and implications of the narrow 217-210 vote can be found in this USA Today’s news report.

2. Pope Francis has once again marked his departure from his immediate predecessors, in an interview with a series of Jesuit publications. His comments–highlights of and commentary on which can be found here–have raised the Pope’s visibility yet again in speaking against the Church’s focus on issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

3.  In Secretary of State John Kerry’s much-anticipated meeting today with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kerry pressed China to take on a “positive, constructive, important role” in the international response to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons use. The two also discussed bilateral issues and North Korea. The AP’s account of the meeting can be found here, and the State Department has posted a transcript of the two representatives’ pre-meeting remarks.

4. With just three days left until the German federal election, the New York Times brings us an account of just how uncertain the race’s outcomes will be. Despite polls that have shown Ms. Merkel leading, the slimness of the margin leaves many wondering what the future of Ms. Merkel and her center-right politics will be.

5.  Egyptian troops turned to Kerdasa in Giza today, seeking to regain control of the pro-Morsi stronghold. The raid has left one senior police officer dead and several others injured. Al Jazeera gives an account of the clashes and discusses resident attitudes towards the security forces.

September 18, 2013:

1. The Fed Reserve surprised observers by deciding not to curtail stimulus, deciding instead to buy $85 billion a month in bonds, leading to soaring stock prices on Wall Street. The decision comes as momentum is growing for the Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Governors of Fed Reserve, Janet Yellen, to replace outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke. The New York Times‘ analysis of the biggest news of the day can be found here.

2. We’re nearing another government shutdown after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives’s most conservative members inserted a clause in a stopgap government funding bill which would defund Obamacare. The government funding bill will be advanced on Friday and government agencies have been told to expect a shutdown on October 1st. October 1st is also the first day that Americans can begin enrolling in state or national insurance exchange programs. The Washington Post has a great series of articles on this, the first of which can be found here.

3. A new poll came out in New Hampshire today for the 2016 Republican presidential primary. The race continues to lack a clear frontrunner, with Rand Paul and Chris Christie both hovering around 20%. Jeb Bush is the only other candidate with double-digits, and the polls are discouraging for Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan – all once-favorites for the nomination who struggled in the polls. Realclearpolitics has the breakdown (while we’re still waiting for Nate Silver to reboot his blog).

4.  The call for gun control unsurprisingly raises its voice in the wake of Monday’s tragic mass shooting. Gun control was at the top of Obama’s legislative agenda after Sandy Hook, and it is difficult to see a legislative path to progress now but the President is calling on lawmakers to prevent “this…ritual that we go through every three, four months,” The WashingtonPost reports.

5. Prolific Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe has been destroying Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial in the fundraising war. McAuliffe raised $6.2 million during July and August in contrast to Cuccinelli who raised just under $2 million in the same time period. The fundraising gap is one of a few reasons McAuliffe has edged ahead of Cuccinelli in this bloody highlight of an otherwise tepid political calendar year. Politico has the story here.

September 17, 2013:

1. The biggest news today comes from Washington, D.C. where coverage of the Washington Navy Yard continues. The gunman has been identified as Aaron Alexis. At least thirteen have been confirmed dead. For more updates, the Washington Post liveblog has the most comprehensive updates.

2. The long-awaited United Nations report on the chemical attack was released yesterday, with sarin gas use confirmed. The political ramifications are unclear at this point — but it seems as though the resolution will be diplomatic, instead of military.

3. Biden 2016? POLITICO today reports that Biden’s speech yesterday has key 2016 themes.

4. In NSA disclosure news, a FISA court judge, Dennis Saylor, has come out and said that Edward Snowden triggered an important debate on spying, and called on more declassification of materials.

5. The annual debt ceiling debate has yet again unofficially begun. Yesterday, President Obama warned Republicans that they could reverse America’s recovery if they continued to reject compromise on budget issues.

September 16, 2013:

1. In some late-breaking news, police are searching for a gunman that shot at least 10 people Monday morning in the Washington Navy Yard (as of 10:15 am).  Police on the scene said eight civilians were shot, along with the two police officers.  For more updates, follow the Washington Post and their indispensable DC coverge.

2. Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard University, withdrew his name from consideration for the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  The New York Times reports that Summers, facing considerable opposition from a growing caucus of Senate Democrats, believed the confirmation battle was have likely ended in defeat.

3. “The Republican push to dismantle Obamacare risks reducing another GOP  priority — tax reform — to collateral damage,” writes Brian Faler of Politico PRO.  “That’s because the best chance to overhaul the Tax Code anytime soon is by  hitching it to legislation raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit. But many  Republicans have other ideas as they begin drawing up their list of demands for  raising the borrowing cap. At the top: Obamacare, an issue that unites  Republicans unlike virtually any other major policy issue.”

4. VP Joe Biden is attending Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak-fry in Iowa this week, a move that is once again revving up speculation that he will seek the one promotional available to him in 2016.  The New York Times stokes the fire with a fun story this morning.

5. Have top Republicans given up on Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli?  After a series of missteps and poor developments for the controversial GOP nominee, Politico‘s James Hohmann explores the possibility.

September 13, 2013:

1. In today’s latest-breaking news on Syria, Russia and the United States announce that they have reached a groundbreaking deal on a framework to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, after talks in Switzerland. To read more, check out CNN.

2. Just days ago, it look inevitable that President Obama would soon name former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to be the next Chairman of the Fed.  But as more and more Democrats line against against his potential nomination, his path to confirmation is looking increasingly perilous.

3. “President Obama has chosen Jeffrey D. Zients, an entrepreneur who twice was the president’s acting budget director and a past candidate for two cabinet positions, to succeed Gene B. Sperling as the chief White House economic adviser,” Jackie Calmes writes in today’s New York Times.

4. Bullied for not believing?  According to The Atlantic, secularism and atheism may be on the rise in the United States, but a growing number of areligious students are being discriminated against — at times violently.

5. Check out The Daily Beast for a sneak peek at Richard Wolfe’s The Message, the new book that takes an inside look at the messy drama behind President Obama’s reelection campaign.

September 12, 2013:

1. Vladmir Putin released a New York Times op-ed reminding the U.S. that a military strike would go against the intentions of the U.N. He directly contradicted the U.S. assessment that the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons, instead claiming that the rebels used them to “provoke intervention” from foreign powers.

2. CNN  reports that talks between the U.S. and Russia concerning Syria will start today, with John Kerry representing the U.S. in Geneva. While the U.S. and Russia enter negotiations about bringing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, Congress is moving onto discussing other matters…or perhaps avoiding discussing them…

3. Straight from D.C., The Washington Post reports that House Republicans delayed a vote on government funding until next week, demanding for provisions to limit funding allocated to Obama’s healthcare plan. With a government shutdown only three weeks away, it sounds like Congress could use a doctor to treat its gridlock, as usual.

4. As the battle over gun control wages on, Missouri legislators decided not to challenge federal legislation on firearms. NPR notes that the challenge would have created misdemeanor charges against individuals enforcing federal laws that restrict Missourians from keeping or bearing arms.

5. The fighting among the government, the rebels, and the French in Mali could potentially pick up again after a lull. BBC has stated that, for the first time since June, violence has resumed between the government and separatist Tuareg forces. Both sides claimed the other for starting the fight.

September 11, 2013:

1. Yesterday was the the Democratic mayoral primary in New Haven — and State Sen. Toni Harp emerged victorious.  At the end of the night, Harp led with 49.5% of the vote, compared with 23.6% for Ward 10 Alder Justin Elicker, 18.6% for former city economic advisor Henry Fernandez, and 8.3% for Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina.  The race is far from over, however, as Elicker has vowed to challenge Harp as an Independent in November.

2. New Haven was not the only city to face elections last night.  In New York, two scandal-happy Democrats — Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner — failed in their comeback attempts (for NYC comptroller and mayor, respectively).  Politico‘s Maggie Haberman has the smart takeaways from their defeats.

3. Syria is still dominating the national stage, thanks in no small part to President Obama’s primetime address to the nation last night.  Bloomberg‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, however, writes: “Why the New Syria Plan Won’t Work Either.”

4. “The president countered Kerry’s second slip with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie Monday night, declaring that “The U.S. does not do pinpricks,” which Kerry parroted at the hearing Tuesday, declaring that “We don’t do pinpricks.” For good measure, Obama, in his address to the nation Tuesday night, made sure the world knew: “The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.” Maureen Dowd pens an as-always indispensable column.

5. Politico‘s Jonathan Allen steps back and take a wider look at the Presidential response to the Syrian crisis.  Allen writes, “So, while Washington is still deeply divided on the question of whether Congress should authorize another war, the risk-averse political class is clearly unified in its hope that someone else will solve the problem.”

September 10, 2013:

1. Public Service Announcement!  If you’re registered as a Democrat in New Haven, it’s primary day!!  The polls will be open across the city from 6:00 am until 8:00 pm — and the New Haven Independent has an excellent primer on where to vote and what’s at stake.

2. “When Secretary of State John Kerry dangled for the first time on Monday actions that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria could take to avoid a military strike, it seemed an acknowledgment that Congress, America’s allies and the Russians were all looking for an off-ramp for what a week ago seemed like inevitable military action against Syria.” The New York Times has more on the ever-changing response to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

3. USA Today polls the American people on the Syrian crisis and finds worrying numbers for a President insistent on military action.  The poll found a 63%-28% margin in opposition to U.S. military action against the Syrian regime for its reported use of chemical weapons against civilians.

4. In case you’re interested in CT politics, 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley (who within a few thousand votes of being our current Governor) just announced an exploratory committee for a 2014 campaign.  That race is indeed shaping up to be quite the horse race!

5. Guys, this is actually super-depressing news.  Apparently, rising interference from smartphones and consumer electronics is slowly killing AM radio (which wasn’t exactly on the rise in the first place).  But don’t give up hope yet!  Apparently, the FCC is on the case.

September 9, 2013: 

1. “With remarkably little to show for a week of intensive lobbying, the last bit of leverage that Democrats expect the White House to use is this: Barack Obama’s presidency depends on it.” Politico has today’s must-read story on why the Syria issue could be a do-or-die moment for the President.

2. For more about Congress’ upcoming consideration of the President’s Syria proposal, check out USA Today, which polled 533 members of Congress to see where things stand.

3. If you haven’t read enough yet about how demographic trends are making elections more and more difficult for the Republican Party, see Ronald Brownstein’s new magnum opus in the National Journal, in which he claims the GOP’s double-down on white voters is foolish.

4. The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza is out with a deep dive on President Obama’s resolve on climate change and the campaign to authorize the Keystone XL.

5. The last of today’s Starting Five comes from our very own Aaron Mak and Eric Stern, who have a comprehensive primer on the New Haven mayoral race.  PSA: The Democratic primary is tomorrow!

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